PH International Law Society Holds Inaugural Conference, Cites Relevance of International Law

MANILA 18 September 2018 – A large number of legal scholars, eminent personalities and students of international law attended the inaugural National Conference of the Philippine Society of International Law (PSIL) at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City on 07 September 2018.

Conducted in partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Office of Legal Affairs of and the UP Law Center, the conference drew scholars and paper presenters from law schools, law centers, law firms and legal practitioners across the country as well as from Australia, Czech Republic, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

With the theme “The Philippines and the Dynamics of International Law in a Time of Transition,” the conference examined issues in a number of discussion panels ranging from human rights, territorial disputes, regional maritime security, international trade law, and armed conflict, terrorism, to environmental law and sustainable development, ASEAN law, enforcement of foreign judgment, and Philippine reception of international law.

In welcoming the some 130 participants, Professor Elizabeth Aguiling-Pangalangan, PSIL President, highlighted how international law faces a host of challenges as it intersects with domestic law in the Philippines. In this time of transition, contradictory directions in constitutional and political orders redirect the development or application of the basic principles, procedures and institutions of international law from the domestic to the regional levels, she noted.

Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for Legal Affairs J. Eduardo Malaya, PSIL Vice President, cited as a promising sign the increasing number of Filipino lawyers with training and practice in international law, particularly in human rights, environmental law, commercial arbitration and the law of the sea. The high quality of the papers presented at the Conference is reflective of the vitality of international law as field of study in the Philippines, he said.

The international law community in the Philippines, however, requires rebuilding in terms of the number of practitioners and the depth of expertise if viewed in light of the increasingly complex challenges the country faces in a dynamic Southeast Asia region, Assistant Secretary Malaya noted.

“The revival of the PSIL and the conduct of its national conference are significant steps towards the growth of the international law community and the increased collaborative work among its members,” he said.

The National Conference also celebrated the significant contributions and enduring legacy of Professor Merlin M. Magallona, former dean of the U.P. College of Law, a prolific law author and a pillar of the international law community.

International Criminal Court Judge and a member of PSIL’s advisory council Raul C. Pangalangan delivered the keynote address at the conference. He noted a fundamental dilemma for Filipinos: some feel that they need to turn away from nationalism to stay true to international law, but in the end, international law is not unnationalistic. Treaty law and customary law dictate that States can empower each other, and that international law can go hand in hand with national law.

UP College of Law Dean Fides Cordero-Tan welcomed the participants to the Conference. Participants included Associate Justice Francis H. Jardeleza of the Supreme Court of the Philippines, Associate Justice (ret.) Adolfo S. Azcuna of the Philippine Judicial Academy, and Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Civilian Security Jose Luis G. Montales.

The event was also attended by officials from the Office of the Solicitor General and the DFA, as well as faculty members and students of UP College of Law, Lyceum Philippines University College of Law, Ateneo Human Rights Center, San Beda University Graduate School of Law, University of Sto. Tomas Graduate School of Law, Far Eastern University Institute of Law, UA&P School of Law and Governance, University of Negros Occidental – Recoletos, and Silliman University College of Law.

There were also paper presentors and moderators from the National University of Singapore – Center for International Law, Islamic University of Indonesia, University of Sydney, Multimedia University Malaysia, University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law, Oxford University and the Gonzaga University School of Law (Washington State).

The PSIL was founded in 1961 by legal luminaries led by the late Justice Florentino Feliciano, and is the Philippine chapter of the Asian Society of International Law, the region’s most prestigious professional and academic organization for international law. PSIL was revived in 2016 with Professor Harry L. Roque, Jr. as President.

The National Conference – co-organized with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines – is also the preparatory event to the AsianSIL 7th Biennial Conference, which will be hosted by PSIL, the DFA and U.P. Law Center/College of Law in Manila on 22-24 August 2019. END